ryan quinn flanagan, five poems

you lookin’ to join the navy, sailor?

I saw him watching all the girls across the street
and walked up and asked if he was a trick
or a pimp.
You interested in girls?
he asked.
I told him I was interested in him.
His life story.
Memoirs were in like Flynn these days.
Could probably get him in with some big New York publisher
that fucked in gold leaf,
I could have him signing bathroom stalls
by the end of the year.
He was food drive skinny and black,
told me to fuck off or he’d carve me up
like a turkey.
I told him Thanksgiving wasn’t for another five months
before walking off to a friendlier corner.
Where I waited for the cars to pull up
and leaned in faster than any of the girls could
in those impossible heels.
You lookin’ to join the navy, sailor?
It only took a single car speeding off
before the girls turned on me in wholesale mutiny.
Whacked me with their plastic glitter purses
that were shrewdly resistant to stains.

he tries to sell me his knife

We are driving on the Blue Angel Parkway.
Heading towards the I10 East on to Mobile.

When we stop for gas at the Texaco
on the north-east corner,
some street dude in camo pants walks up
and asks if I want to buy his knife.

He takes it out to show me.
Says he just needs a few bucks to get by.
Promises he hasn’t stabbed anybody with it
or anything like that.

That’s most reassuring, I think to myself.
Standing at the pumps at a quarter past 10
in the morning.

When I shake my head no,
he says: God Bless You, Sir!
Before gathering his duffle bag on his back
and riding off on his bike.

Down the side alley and he is gone.

My wife comes out of the store.
What did that man want?
He wanted to sell me his knife,
I say.

His knife?
she says.

Then he blessed me
and rode off on his bike.

We get back in the truck with a full tank.
Drive off into a strange world.
The cloud from our double exhaust
spitting cobras back up into the serrated
snakeskin sky.

John Grisham poem

Enough of the spy novel!
Don’t you think the closet has received
enough attention in relation to
the rest of the room?
John Grisham looked to bring home the bacon
and now he owns a smelly spinning pig farm
over 8 billion strong.
The infidels outnumbered by infidelity
almost 300-1.
Everyone with a machete
and no one sure of who deserves to
lose their head anymore.
It’s a real death squad predicament.
Who gets it with enough distance between
you and the blade to stay alive long enough
to try caviar and know it tastes as
awful as all the rest.
Just bring me the damn menu!
I’m sure I can pick one winner out
of a losing field.
Water without ice if you please.
I never ordered hepatitis.

the lights at the heroin hotel are always out

Walk past that same tired flop
beside the broken chain link field
of garbage.

Graffitied stairwells,
all the windows knocked in.

The lights at the heroin hotel are always out.
Those glazed blank faces like highway billboards
for rent.
Juice jars of piss
by lice-ridden body bags
of fluttering sleep.

Zombies from the open-air market
three streets away
shooting between the toes
when all the prime veins
are blown.

2 drunks fighting & the smell of fresh bread

We are up early.
Just after 6 am.
Lying in bed listening to 2 drunks fighting
in the street.
Every once in a while, you hear a woman’s voice interject.

I smell fresh bread!
my wife says.

That’s what you got from that,
I say rolling over.
You’re crazy for bread!

Then the yelling intensifies.
The woman interjects and then we start
all over again.

These people are nuts!
I say.

My wife walks over to the window
and looks down.
Catching the tail end of the festivities
as the woman drags one of the men off
down the street.

My wife comes back to bed.
Now I smell fresh bread,
I say.

See!
she elbows me.
I told you, I’m not crazy.

I tell her she’s completely bonkers,
but that she’s right about the bread.

Then I roll over
and try to get a little more
sleep.

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